TPM News

During an appearance yesterday on Hardball, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) jokingly suggested that former Vice President Dick Cheney is a vampire.

Chris Matthews asked Grayson what he thinks of Cheney's attacks on President Obama for "dithering" on Afghanistan.

"Well, my response is -- and by the way, I have trouble listening to what he says sometimes, because of the blood that drips from his teeth while he's talking," said Grayson. "But my response is this: He's just angry because the president doesn't shoot old men in the face. But by the way, when he was done speaking, did he just then turn into a bat and fly away?"

Even Matthews, no Cheney fan himself, was shocked: "Oh God -- we gotta keep a level here. Let me ask you this: Don't you have any Republican friends?"

Grayson laughed, and said that some of his best friends are Republicans.

Rep. Don Young (R-AK) is refusing to talk about new claims that for over a decade, he received gifts from the same oil-industry executive whose ties to Ted Stevens were at the heart of that case last year.

Don't bother me, don't bother me," the congressman commanded a reporter from the Anchorage Daily News yesterday. A spokeswoman for Young did not respond to a request for comment from TPMmuckraker. And even Young's Washington lawyer, John Dowd, didn't get back to the ADN.

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The White House released the official family portrait of the Obamas this morning. The First Family turned to famed celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz for the photo, which was taken in the Green Room, a parlor on the first floor of the executive mansion.

Click here for the full photo.

Politico's Mike Allen has a splashy story up this morning claiming, among other things, that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has concluded that she can't pass the robust public option. But is it accurate? Not according to Pelosi's spokesman Nadeam Elshami:

"Speculation that a final decision has been made about the public option are not accurate," Elshami tells TPMDC. "We continue to work with all the members of the caucus to build consensus."

As of yesterday, Pelosi was continuing to negotiate with members of her caucus who would prefer a public option that pays negotiated (as opposed to Medicare-like) rates, pointing out that a robust public option saves significantly more money than other versions, and that the savings will have to come from elsewhere if the public option isn't strong enough.

If Pelosi's push is not successful, it would be a blow to progressives who have insisted that the House pass a robust public option. But it appears for now that, contra Allen, the push is ongoing.

A senior House aide assures me that "the House bill will have a public option." But the leadership did not tell progressives last night that the robust public option is off the table. The votes are still being counted.

A source close to Doug Hoffman has just told me that Steve Forbes will be endorsing the Conservative Party candidate in the NY-23 special election -- yet another right-wing voice who is rebelling against the Republican Party for nominating moderate candidate Dede Scozzafava.

The biggest news, of course, is that Sarah Palin has endorsed Hoffman, denouncing the GOP for putting up their candidate. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) is also backing Hoffman, the only sitting member of Congress to openly do so -- though of Congressional Republican have not endorsed Scozzafava.

This sure is a mess, and it's looking more and more likely that Democratic candidate Bill Owens will win from the GOP split with the Tea Party purists, giving House Democrats a pick-up of a Republican-held seat.

NYT: Behind The White House Vs. Fox News Fight The New York Times reports on the White House-Fox News feud, and how it followed an unsuccessful attempt by senior adviser David Axelrod and Fox head Roger Ailes to work out their problems. "We simply decided to stop abiding by the fiction, which is aided and abetted by the mainstream press, that Fox is a traditional news organization," said deputy White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer.

Obama's Day Ahead President Obama will depart form the White House at 10:05 a.m. ET, arriving in Boston at 11:30 a.m. ET. He will tour a research laboratory at MIT, at 12 p.m. ET, and will deliver remarks on clean energy at 12:30 p.m. ET. He will deliver remarks at a fundraising reception for Gov. Deval Patrick at 2:05 p.m. ET, and will speak at a fundraising event for Patrick at 2:45 p.m. ET. He will depart from Boston at 3:40 p.m. ET, arriving at 4:35 p.m. ET in New York City. He will join Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), and tour a small business at 5:15 p.m. ET. He will deliver remarks at a Dodd fundraising dinner at 6:45 p.m. ET. He will depart from New York at 8 p.m. ET, arriving back at the White House at 9:10 p.m. ET.

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As the clock runs down on the Virginia gubernatorial contest, the cavalcade of stars is in full swing. Today, RNC chair Michael Steele and Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) will both appear in the state to stump for their party's nominee.

Webb will make a stop in Northern Virginia for Creigh Deeds this afternoon. A high turnout in the vote rich, Democratic-leaning region is vitally important for Deeds if he hopes to pull off what polls show would be an upset win over Republican Bob McDonnell.

At the same time, Steele will be kicking of a two stop tour through Virginia's southern coastal region. Steele will stump for McDonnell in Chesapeake and Virginia Beach.

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House leadership sources are telling TPMDC they think news on the "robust" public option is leaking out to pressure House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as the health care discussions are getting hotter, and closer to the final deal.

Politico's story this morning suggests Pelosi doesn't have the votes, but our sources insist the leadership isn't yet at that stage.

Presidential adviser Valerie Jarrett jabbed at the Politico story while appearing on MSNBC's Morning Joe today, saying of the reporter who penned the piece, "I don't know whether Mike Allen can actually count votes or not."

But House sources think Democrats may have spoken with Allen to apply pressure on Pelosi at this late stage in the game.

Sources also knocked down a suggestion that President Obama expressed his preference for a type of public option during a huddle with Senate Democratic leaders last night at the White House.

An administration source tells TPMDC that last night Senate leaders updated Obama on their progress toward the final merger. The group discussed a public option that includes a state opt-out clause, but stressed they had not made a final decision.

Senators are "still working through the substance and talking to their members about it," the source said. "They didn't ask for the president's endorsement since no decision has been made."

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The new Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll of the NY-23 special election finds Democratic candidate Bill Owens narrowly leading Republican Dede Scozzafava -- and Doug Hoffman, the Conservative Party candidate who has excited a revolt against the GOP establishment from the whole national right wing, in third.

The numbers: Owens 35%, Scozzafava 30%, and Hoffman 23%, with a ±4% margin of error. This is consistent with last week's Siena poll, which had Owens ahead by 33%-29%-23%.

Hoffman supporters were asked for their second choices, with only 9% saying they would back Scozzafava, 3% for Owens, 26% who wouldn't vote, and 62% who are undecided. Even with the higher margins of error that afflict these sorts of sub-samples, that's pretty telling.

Interestingly, a key poll question finds that Scozzafava doesn't even qualify for the argument that the GOP should nominate moderate candidates to match moderate districts. Scozzafava is in favor of gay marriage -- making her even more progressive than the Democrat on this issue -- but the district's likely voters oppose gay marriage by 53%-39%.

Former Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK) has endorsed Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman in the NY-23 special election, in a statement provided to the Weekly Standard, and is blasting the GOP for picking moderate Republican candidate Dede Scozzafava:

Political parties must stand for something. When Republicans were in the wilderness in the late 1970s, Ronald Reagan knew that the doctrine of "blurring the lines" between parties was not an appropriate way to win elections. Unfortunately, the Republican Party today has decided to choose a candidate that more than blurs the lines, and there is no real difference between the Democrat and the Republican in this race. This is why Doug Hoffman is running on the Conservative Party's ticket.

Republicans and conservatives around the country are sending an important message to the Republican establishment in their outstanding grassroots support for Doug Hoffman: no more politics as usual.

Just think about the seriousness of the split in Republican ranks over this race -- the nominee for Vice President in last year's election is now rejecting the party's candidate in a Congressional race, where the divisions among the right are threatening to hand a GOP-held seat to the Democrats.